February 19 marks 70 years since the first attack on Australian soil; the start of a 21-month-long raid on Australia’s north. The anniversary will be marked by a two-week program of events, including a re-enactment at the Darwin Cenotaph.
The Bombing of Darwin Heritage Tour guide, Garry Gallagher, says the event will be one of the last opportunities for people to hear firsthand accounts from those who defended Australia. ”Visitors will hear the stories of our servicemen brought to life … see important war sites and understand just how close we were to losing the Top End,” he says.
Some Northern Territory tour operators have put together packages around the event and others that usually close during the low season are staying open. ”I expect the anniversary will lead to some of the busiest weeks of the year,” Gallagher says.
Also marking the anniversary are a new World War II Heritage Park south of Darwin and a “Defence of Darwin” experience at the Darwin Military Museum.
This article is an excerpt from Jane E. Fraser’s weekly travel column in The Sun Herald, Sydney.